Online Bible Commentary
The Power of God’s Word
Acts 20:28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (NKJV)
The time is spring, 57 A.D. The Apostle Paul is on his way back home from his third missionary journey. Paul has sailed to Miletus, Asia where he has taken time to meet with the elders of the church in Ephesus.
Paul’s message to the elders is presented in four parts. In the preceding passage he recalled his faithful ministry to believers in Asia and his future ahead.
In this passage he charges them with the work which will be required after he departs, before saying his farewells in the next passage. Paul’s first charge to the elders is to “take heed to yourselves” (v. 28a). The elders must preserve their own spiritual purity before they can be expected to help someone else.
Next, Paul charges them to take heed “to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” (v. 28b). The flock is the church at Ephesus.
These elders have been selected by the Holy Spirit to oversee those believers. They have been appointed by the church as elders only because the Holy Spirit had made it evident that they should be overseers. The Holy Spirit is the one who calls us to service. The church only confirms that calling.
The elders have been called “to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (v. 28c). Some have concern with this reference to God’s “own blood”, since God is Spirit. However, this appears to be a reference by Paul that Jesus is God, which is consistent with Scripture and the Trinity.
Next, Paul warns the elders of “savage wolves” coming in to the church and attacking the flock (v. 29). “Savage wolves” is a reference to false teachers and others who would oppose the church. Shepherds must be alert to wolves attacking the sheep.
In addition to attacks from those outside the church, Paul warns the elders of attacks from those inside the church who would speak “perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (v. 30). He is warning of false teachers who would seek to draw believers away from Paul’s teaching to their own false teaching.
Paul then reminds the elders that “for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (v. 31). Paul is referring to the fact that he has continually, and emotionally, warned the church of false teachers during his time with the Ephesians.
Finally, Paul seals the elders to his charge by commending them “to God and to the word of His grace” (v. 32a). In this way he commits the elders to the care and protection of God and His word, the Scriptures.
Paul then makes reference to the power of God’s word, the Bible. It is “able to build you up and give you an inheritance”, along with all other believers (v. 32b). By the same token, this same power is able to tear you down and condemn you to Hell if used improperly.
Scripture is powerful. The Bible has the awesome power to change lives. It is because of this awesome power that we have the awesome responsibility to be faithful to its teachings.
Therefore, we must be careful when reading and teaching the Bible. We must stay faithful to the truth of Scripture, and not simply use it to try and prove our own theories.